There were at least 25 spectators in court on Thursday for Melchor Marabante’s first court appearance since his arrest for the alleged murder of his estranged wife and her male companion.
Detectives allege the 41-year-old shot and killed his estranged wife, Valerie Marabante, 23, and Bernabe Villamar, 26, around 3 a.m. Sunday. Neighbors heard gunshots around that time, but patrol units did not find anything suspicious when they investigated. A friend discovered the victims about 8:20 a.m.
Marabante is charged with "special circumstances" in this murder, because he allegedly waited and watched the two victims before shooting them.
The prosecutor says the two victims were not romantically involved and were just friends.
Marabante pleaded not guilty to the two murder charges and will be held without bail at the county jail.
The prosecutor said both victims have big and very supportive families who are doing all they can to help each other cope with these tragic killings. None of those family members would talk with reporters after Thursday’s arraignment.
Marabante, his estranged wife and Villamar were nurses at Donovan State Prison.
The married couple had recently moved to the complex to be closer to their jobs, but Marabante had moved out a week before the shooting, said San Diego Police Lt. Kevin Rooney.
The defendant was arrested Sunday at a Murrieta hospital.